With the housing market in the doldrums and the economy still teetering on a precipice, there has probably never been a harder time selling a house for a healthy profit. That’s why if you are in the process of selling your own home you need to put in even more work than you would normally have had to. It’s a tough market out there and you need to make sure your property stands out. Preparing it for sale will mean being prepared and making sure certain fundamentals are attended to.
These fundamentals include making sure the house is super-clean and that the main features are highlighted. Everything you do when preparing the house for sale should be geared towards wowing potential buyers and making sure there isn’t anything in the property, or about the property that will give those buyers a negative impression. To do this, focus on the following steps:
(1) Get Rid of That Clutter – Selling your house means de-cluttering. This is both good for your soul and good for your sales prospects. You may feel that having all of your old star wars toys lying around the house gives it some character or that your massive piles of magazines make the house look arty. Maybe, but they won’t help you sell it. Remove everything that you possibly can from the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room, and bedrooms. Make the house as sleek, minimalist, and un-cluttered as possible. Buyers want to project their future life onto a house, not your past life.
(2) Utilize Space Craftily – Get rid of any large items in your house that fill up a room. Take hat and coat stands from the hallway, extra dressers, and chest of drawers from bedrooms. If necessary, put them all into storage. It might be disruptive for a little while but if it makes your house look bigger and helps it to sell then it is worth it.
(3) Get Some Professional Help With the Cleaning – We can all clean our own houses but when it comes to getting a property sparkling – so that you can sell it- it pays to get in a professional cleaner. Not only will they do a better job than you in all of the normal areas, but they will also get to the places you won’t even think of. These might be stains in the corner of the carpet, grout around the bath and shower, or removing dirt and grime from inside your oven.
(4) Repair Anything That Needs Repairing – This isn’t about the major things (although clearly, you will need to make sure there are no major things that need repairing) but about all the little issues scattered around your house that you might not have taken care of over the last few years. This could be anything from oiling doors or windows that creak, filling in cracks and then painting over them, to really basic things like making sure all the light bulbs have been changed and that there are no loose door handles, etc
(5) Accentuate the Positives – If your property has a single defining feature (or a couple of them if you are really lucky) then make sure you highlight that feature. It could be an incredible view, really high ceilings, large bay windows, or an old antique fireplace. Whatever it is, make a big deal about it both in the property description and during any viewings of the property.
(6) Remember That First Impressions Last – Just like job interviews or first dates, house viewings are defined by that first impression. With this in mind, make sure that the entranceway, hallway, or garden leading up to your property are all well maintained and look good. Don’t leave any rubbish out, make sure there are no nasty smells, prune the bushes, tidy the plants, and clean the front door. Some people like to brew coffee before their guests arrive to give the house a nice smell as they come in the door.
(7) Get Advice from Other People – Inevitably you are going to be a bit biased about your own home and consequently, it is always worth getting a second opinion. You may well have learned to love some of the quirks and flaws of your house or may have laid it out in a way that suits you but doesn’t make the most of the features. A second opinion, preferably from someone in the business like a real estate agent, will be invaluable in making a sale.
Selling an Inherited Property with Equity
You’ve inherited a great house. It has high ceilings, spacious rooms, lots of lands—and a loan with payments still due. The good news is that the house can still be sold if that’s your goal; the bad news is that you might not see a lot of cash from the sale.
The Estate Process
It’s helpful to first understand how the estate process works. Even though the deceased person has left the home to a particular person or persons, the property must go into an estate. The funds from the estate are only paid out after paying off the remaining expenses or debts of the estate.
You can only inherit the actual home and gain the property’s title if the mortgage or loan balance can be paid off without selling the property. If you don’t have the cash on hand to pay off the loan, you’ll inherit the amount of equity left in the home after it’s sold and the lender is repaid.
If you want to try to keep the property, you have two options. One is to pay off the loan balance in full with funds from the estate or elsewhere. The other is to get a regular mortgage on the house and then pay the loan balance.
Selling the Property
Sometimes selling inherited property with equity makes the most sense, and often it is the only option. The proceeds from selling the property will pay off the loan; you then take any left-over equity and walk away. This is the best option particularly if the house is upside down: the property value is less than the balance on the loan. Home values can drop for any number of reasons including damage, deterioration of the property, or the fact that home values in the area have simply declined.
Inheriting a property left to more than one heir is a little more complicated to navigate, but not impossible. Once the house is sold, the sale proceeds or remaining equity, if any, are split amongst the heirs.
Shared Equity Mortgage
One other possibility for selling a house with equity is setting up a Shared Equity Mortgage. This could work out well if there are multiple heirs with different ideas on what to do with the property. In this arrangement, one party (or parties) provides financing and the other party lives in the home. Agreements vary, but often the occupying owner pays insurance and property taxes while the others pay the mortgage. The one heir who wants to keep the house can live in it while the others pay off any debt and maintain equity in the property to be paid out in a future sale.
These can be complicated issues, so it’s always good to check with your local attorney and real estate agent to get all the facts before moving forward.